The Bulletproof Clipboard

Have you ever felt the need for a bulletproof clipboard? No me neither but The Ballistic Clipboard from Impact Armor Technologies in the United States has been designed in response to requests from law enforcement agencies. It’s issued to traffic officers doing routine traffic stops and is both bullet and stab proof.

I tell the story for two reasons – firstly as a warning that there are probably better career moves than becoming a traffic cop in the United States!  But secondly, perhaps there’s an opportunity here. The tragic case of a Leeds school teacher who was stabbed in her classroom a few weeks ago, highlighted the dangers faced by people in seemingly ‘safe’ professions. In addition to teachers, I’m know  that social workers, health professionals and civil servants often risk assault by members of the public in the course of their work. Could there be an opportunity to create a range of items (like the clipboard) that double up as either a weapon or shield in the event of the worst happening?

Special Spectacles

Most people who wear spectacles either end up wearing the same pair all the time or  spend a fortune on several different pairs. Japanese design group, Nendo, has come up with a third alternative. The companies spectacles design does away with screws, and uses magnets instead to hold the arms in place. The upshot of this is that arms become interchangeable, enabling owners to change the look, colour and style without buying a new pair of glasses.

I haven’t seen anything  like this in the UK yet, so maybe that could be something to look into. Thinking more broadly, are there other items which are typically worn, and which could be given a modular makeover like this? I’ve seen modular flip-flops in the past. Anything else?

www.nendo.jp

More Ethnic Specific Products

A little while ago, I wrote here about shaving products tailored specifically for black skin. That triggered an email from reader Kevin Sheeran. Here’s what he said…

“Interesting item in today’s newsletter about the shaving kit specifically for black guys. A few years ago I read about a woman who could not find a birthday card for her young son that had any black children’s faces on it, (like his) so she launched her own range to some success.

This chimed with me and I had the idea of ‘Band Aid’ style sticking plasters for the cuts and scrapes of people of black and Asian origin. After all, the traditional ‘pink’ one would stand out a mile on their skin.

Many folks laughed at me, so I took a look into the possibilities – only to discover some sharp cookie had literally just launched such a range and was getting all kinds of positive press.

There goes another fortune, I thought at the time. Ahh well, back to the day job.”

With regard to the ethnic sticking plasters, you can find out more here:

http://sticky-skin.weebly.com/about.html

And read more about what the Guardian said about them here:

http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2010/sep/26/plaster-matches brown-skin

Also, here’s the website about the ethnic minority greetings cards:

http://www.personalise.colorblindcards.com

So what other products might lend themselves to a version aimed at the non-white population.  The key of course is that a generic product doesn’t work optimally for the target market. It’s easy to see how this is the case for the products we’ve already talked about. But what else is there?  In addition, might there be opportunities to produce similarly tailored products for the Asian or Chinese market?

Turtle Taxis

Taxis typically aim to get  their customers from A to B as quickly  as possible, but not all customers are interested in speed. Turtle Taxis in Yokohama, Japan gives passengers the option to ride slowly to enjoy a more relaxing journey while also helping the environment.

Turtle Taxis  comes with a button at the back of the driver’s seat. If passengers aren’t in a rush they can press the button to let the driver know they can slow down. As well as enjoying a more comfortable and less stressful ride, the scheme also enables cabbies to practice more eco-friendly driving practices.

There are two ideas to take from this:

1. Might a ‘safe and slow’ taxi service find a market in the UK?

2. Are you assuming that all your customers want the same thing. As Turtle Taxi’s have found out, there can be a significant number who want something different, and that different thing could save you money.

Ideas To Steal

What good is a failed or discarded idea?  Well maybe quite a lot. You see, what doesn’t work for one person – or what they simply don’t get around to trying out – might be perfect for someone else. That’s the premise behind ‘Ideas to Steal’, a website where site users post up the ideas which, for one reason or another, weren’t right for them.

Ideas To Steal is a platform for ensuring that failed or discarded  ideas get a second chance. Who knows, there might be something there that’s right for you. It’s certainly worth having a look.

www.ideastosteal.today

Streetwise Property Alert 16th June 2014

Here we are again at the start of another week and some UK property news and views…

Supply – What’s Coming

A just-out report by planning specialists Turley examines the five year housing requirements and land supply positions of 318 Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) in England and Wales, excluding London, between April 2013 and April 2018.

‘Local authorities are required under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years’ worth of housing against their objectively assessed housing requirements. Our research and report shows that at least 211 of England And Wales’ 318 planning authorities fall short of their five year land supply targets.’

‘The majority of LPAs are falling short of their minimum five year housing land supply requirements, and this has significant implications for the pace of economic recovery. It is also likely to impact affordability for first time buyers wishing to enter the market. The need for housing remains high and is growing yet many LPAs still do not have adopted up to date NPPF compliant Local Plans. This leaves planning policy in a state of flux and uncertainty that will further delay the delivery of much needed homes across England and Wales. ‘The substantial shortfall is, however, only likely to deteriorate as annual dwelling delivery rates remain below those needed to meet the overall requirements across England and Wales.’ Food for thought.

Development Land – Price-Rising

According to Knight Frank’s latest Development Land Index, English land values rose by 7.3 per cent in the year to the end of Q1 2014. Developers expect prices to continue to rise. Most expect prices to rise by between 10 per cent and 15 per cent over the next year.

‘The expected rise in activity in the next 12 months is certainly supported by our survey, which shows that 74 per cent of respondents expect to increase their pipeline of land with planning, while 69 per cent expect to increase their strategic land holding. There is increasing debate about land banks and whether house builders are keeping land and not building it out in order simply to make a profit on re-selling it.

‘This goes to the heart of the question of whether strategic land, on which a house builder has agreed an option with the landowner, which may or may not lead to them gaining planning or buying the land, or which may be bought and have started the long process of going through planning, should be classed as a land bank.’ More to come on land banks.

L0ndon’s Strangled Supply

A report from the National Housing Federation suggests the supply-demand mix has reached ‘critical levels’ in London. Some 52,500 new households are expected to be created year-in, year-out up to 2021. This compares to just 18,310 new homes built during the 2012/2013 year.

The average property price in 2012 was £438,636, some 87 per cent up on the average for 2002. The average price in London is already 16 times the average wage and that difference is expected to rise by a further 43 per cent by 2020. The average London rent is £1,400 a month with rents expected to rise by 32 per cent by 2020.

‘England appears to be moving towards economic recovery, driven significantly by London’s dynamism and the city’s prominence as a global financial centre. But as the capital thrives, the result for ordinary Londoners is an overheated housing market with people struggling to buy or rent a home of their own. If things don’t change, London’s much needed economic growth could be stifled and businesses could struggle. Building more homes could be the crucial difference between a thriving world city and a capital in decline.’ Something to think about for sure.

All for now, see you again soon. We are, by the by, now proof-reading the IPA PDF for June and that should come out to you as an attachment on Wednesday.

The Car That Stays Clean

Just watched a fascinating video about the worlds first ‘self cleaning’ car. As someone who hates cleaning cars I was more than a little interested.  Nissan have just finished trialling a Note MPV which is coated in ‘super-hydrophobic’ and oil repelling paint. The paint creates a protective layer of air between itself and the environment, which means mud, rain and other road gunk just slides off. There are obvious cost savings as well as additional protection for the car body. Now it’s been developed, I’d expect this paint to find its way to high end production models quite soon, and more mainstream models, not long after that.

I mention it for two reasons., firstly because you could be interested, and secondly as a warning…many businesses are vulnerable to technological advance, and even the humble car wash could fall victim if this becomes commonplace. Are there similar threats to your business, and what can you do about it? While you’re thinking about it, here’s the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwoGsCAKsxU

Streetwise Property Alert 12th June 2014

Here we are again with some more overseas property news and views…

Canada – What Sort of Landing?

Most pundits agree that Canada’s property market is to dip – but how much and how hard? According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the market is set for a soft landing, with prices rising 1.6 per cent in 2015.

‘Economic and demographic fundamentals will still support new building activity, but builders will continue to adjust activity in order to manage inventory, particularly in the multi-family sector. Builders are expected to continue to manage their starts activity in order to ensure that demand from buyers seeking new condominium units is first channeled toward unsold completed units or unsold units that are currently under construction.’ More to come for those you registered with us as buyers in this market.

Best Beach Properties

Over in the US, RealtyTrac has issued a report on the best beach town housing markets based on home values, weather, air quality and crime rates. ‘Buying near the beach is one of the best ways to ensure a property will appreciate in value. Whether buying for retirement, a vacation home or a primary residence, homes located in quality beach towns benefit from virtually unlimited demand and a finite supply of
land to build on.’

Where? Four of the top 20 markets are in Florida – Hobe Sound in Martin County leads the way with ‘an average temperature of 76 degrees, 64 per cent sunny days, 98 per cent of days with good air quality and a crime grade of A+. The town ranks number one thanks to its low median estimated market value of homes and condos: $191,189.’ Other Florida beach towns? We have Naples at number two and Marco Island at number five and Key Biscayne at number 20. Interested in this sector? Email for more information.

admin@streetwisenews.com

North Dakota News

New data from the US Census Bureau reveals that North Dakota has been building at the fastest rate across the USA over the past three years. The Census Bureau’s Rodger Johnson comments, ‘For much of the last century, population totals declined in some areas of the northern Great Plains, as people were drawn to opportunities in other parts of the country. Recently, the trend in part of the northern Great Plains has reversed. North Dakota’s population previously peaked in the 1930’s at 680,845 and only surpassed that level in 2011. The state’s 2013 population estimated now exceeds 723,000.’

North Dakota Developments, the developers, add, ‘North Dakota’s housing situation is incredibly dynamic. North Dakota Developments is already building its fourth site in order to house the oil workers of the Bakken Formation – and still more accommodation is needed. Providers here literally cannot build fast enough. Even with our housing units being constructed with modular technology out of state and transporting them here once built, which speeds up the construction process considerably, we are finding that demand continues to outstrip supply.’ Way to go yet?

Florida Positives

Just been looking through various documents from the Florida Realtors Association. Bundling together some quotes, ‘Florida’s strengthening economy and increased jobs outlook are positive signs for continued growth in the state’s housing market. Statewide, new listings for single-family homes in April rose 9.2 per cent year-over-year, while new townhouse-condo listings rose 1.4 per cent. This increase in listings shows many Florida homeowners are continuing to regain equity in their homes. Potential sellers who were on the sidelines now believe the time is right to put their residences on the market. And, for the 29th month in row, median sales prices rose year-over-year for both single-family homes and townhome-condo properties.’

‘We continue to see the development of a sustainable market here in Florida. The numbers all suggest a balanced market, and the slight uptick in inventory is a correction for the historically low levels we’ve seen over the past two or three years. If there’s anything that jumps out of these numbers, it is the rapidly disappearing short sale market. The decline in short sales – a characteristic seen all over the country – is a function of rising prices reducing the number of candidate properties for short sales. We expect this will continue as the market continues to improve. I can confirm the 23 June onwards visit is on; we have a few places left. A free report will be available for those who cannot make it.

All for now, see you again soon.

Solving The Healthy Eating Conundrum

Everyone knows that fresh vegetables are good for you, but despite that, consumption in the general population is way below what it needs to be. A recent report from the United States suggests that this isn’t because of cost, or even taste, but  rather because of the perceived inconvenience and time it takes to prepare the food.

So here’s the problem – how do you market fresh vegetables in a way which makes them more attractive to mainstream consumers, and removes the perception of difficult  and time-consuming preparation? There may be solutions in pre-preparation, packaging, presentation or suggested usage,  but it seems like there’s a lot of money to be made for anyone who can nail the problem. You’d be enhancing the nation’s health too.